James Rodriguez has been told to ‘raise his game’ at Everton, with the Real Madrid man closing in on a move to Goodison Park, former Colombia star Hamilton Ricard told Marca.
With the three-time Champions League winner flying to England ahead of a medical with the Merseyside giants, the temptation is to suggest that this is a deal for the ages, one of the biggest transfer coups in Everton’s modern history.
But consider this: if James was still performing at the peak of his powers, there is no chance that he would be on the verge of joining a club who finished a lowly 12th in the Premier League last season.
The Telegraph reports that 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner is set to sign a three-year deal with Everton.
Real, meanwhile, are willing to sell their £63 million Galactico for a reduced fee of £22 million.
That in itself is a reflection of how far James has sunk at the Bernabeu, starting just five La Liga games last season after two years farmed out on loan at Bayern Munich.
“I hope he enjoys a footballer’s life in England, it’s a real glamour,” says ex-Middlesbrough forward Ricard, who is desperate to see Colombia’s biggest name get back to his brilliant best.
“(English football) is the best. They put everything at your service. Football is their life.
“Raise your game and be a starter again.”
Ricard is confident that the presence of another Colombia international in the Goodison dressing room, giant centre-back Yerry Mina, will help James settle in England.
“He always helps a teammate that speaks Spanish, a Colombian that’s there,” he adds. “(Mina) knows the city, the surroundings. Yerry will lend him a hand.”
James will arrive at Everton with his reputation at rock bottom.
Yet, on paper at least, you could make the argument that a La Liga, Bundesliga and Primeira Liga champion is the most naturally gifted footballer to pull on the famous blue shirt this side of the century.
Everton’s opening fixtures of the 2020/21 season
West Brom (H)
Crystal Palace (A)